Willie Nelson, one of the most important and influential figures in the history of country music, will participate in a rare Q&A on June 5 at the Billboard Country Summit, produced in association with the Country Music Association.
Nelson will be interviewed by Billboard executive director, content and programming, touring and live entertainment Ray Waddell in what's sure to be a candid and entertaining session on the second day of the Summit, set for June 4-5 at the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville as the unofficial kickoff of CMA Fest week.
On the first day of the Summit, rising country star Luke Bryan will take part in the Artist Development Case Study, an in-depth discussion with key players in a career that is seeing serious current growth and has a robust long-term prognosis. Bryan's team, including manager Kerri Edwards at Red Light Management and agent Jay Williams of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, will break down the strategic moves that have taken Bryan to headlining status and what comes next.
Legendary outlaw and Country Music Hall of Famer Nelson, in town to play a date with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra on June 5 at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, will stop by the Summit to talk about... whatever Willie wants to. Having written a wealth of country music's greatest songs, launched Farm Aid, played thousands of shows, and built a recording career that changed country music forever, Nelson should have plenty to say. Ever relevant and boundary-pushing, Nelson's newest album, "Heroes," released May 15 on Sony Legacy, is an inspired effort that features duets with partners ranging from Merle Haggard to Snoop Dogg.
After debuting in 2007 with "I'll Stay Me," Bryan quickly built a passionate fan base that grew with each successive release, including 2009's "Doin' My Thing" and 2011's "Tailgates & Tanlines," both of which are certified gold for sales of over 500,000 copies. The singer/songwriter has banked three No. 1 songs - "Do I," "Rain Is A Good Thing" and the recent "I Don't Want This Night To End." Bryan is currently on tour with Jason Aldean, who participated in last year's Artist Development Case Study.
"Being able to host a bona fide legend like Willie Nelson - and ask him questions - is a career opportunity for a journalist," says Waddell. "Luke Bryan is one of the most exciting new country stars to emerge in the past several years, and he and his team have implemented some innovative and effective measures to move his career forward. We're stoked to be hosting both artists at this year's Summit."
The third annual Country Summit will explore multiple segments of the business, including radio, touring, publishing and digital technologies. Previous keynote guests and panelists have included Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, Aldean, Tim McGraw and Martina McBride. Additional panelists will be announced in the coming weeks.
Go here to get plugged in for the 2012 Billboard Country Music Summit.